Well, I can hardly stand up straight, but my flower gardens are planted. Phew! This is a monumental task that I actually look forward to each spring. For those of you who also enjoy flowers—for their beauty in the yard and for indoor cutting, there is a great variety to choose from. It’s not too late to plant those summer annuals that never disappoint and are relatively easy to care for. My favorite is the zinnia and I love all the varieties from the short, mounding types to the tallest or giant zinnias with blooms reminiscent of dahlias. Annuals will keep performing all summer if they are regularly irrigated and fertilized and you do a bit of dead-heading along the way.
A really beautiful bloomer is Angelonia [Angelonia angustifolia] or summer snapdragon. This plant comes in many colors ranging from white to pink, to blue, to multicolor. The spiked blooms remind me of lilacs and can grow as tall as 16 inches. They are a fabulous contrast to marigolds and zinnias and can also be used as a border or en masse for a carpet effect. The spent flower spikes should be cut off to encourage new blooms all summer. In our area Angelonia can survive the winter and function as a perennial in our warm climate. The frost-freeze events can determine whether this plant will behave as a perennial.
Angelonia is relatively pest free and easy to grow in well-drained soil. They love full hot sun and, when fully established, are somewhat drought resistant, although I would not deny them regular irrigation. Leggy stems with spent blooms, or stems that have fallen over should be pruned right back to ground level. New shoots will develop quickly. For pet owners, know that Angelonia is not toxic to your dog or cat. For long lasting color and low maintenance, there is not a better prolific bloomer to recommend for your garden. Angelonia does well in containers too, and makes a fabulous spiky center surrounded by weeping calibrachoa which makes an attractive planter to brighten up that sunny spot on your patio. Just make sure the containers you choose are large enough to hold sufficient soil and water to ensure the health of the plants. Remember also that plants in containers need regular fertilization.
Your Angelonias will bloom continuously until the weather turns cold. They are not responsive to the length of the day but rather to temperature. This means that Angelonias planted in April or May will brighten your garden until the end of October. What more could you ask for?
The Master Gardeners of SaddleBrooke have a website: sbmastergardeners.wordpress.com for all up to date information and events for our community. Garden questions? You can reach our SaddleBrooke Garden Helpline by calling Pat at 520-407-6459. Your phone call will be forwarded to a Master Gardener Volunteer who will assist you in the solution of your problem.
Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.